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Weakened euro sees cost of living drop across eurozone

  • A weak German economy and a strong US dollar deliver a double-hit to eurozone countries with only eight locations remaining in the top 100, compared to 22 in 2014
  • Brexit uncertainty causes Central London to fall to 140th in global rankings, its lowest ever position
  • Switzerland continues to have the highest cost of living in Europe, with four locations in the top 10

The latest Cost of Living report from global mobility specialist, ECA International (ECA) reveals almost all eurozone locations saw their cost of living drop, with seven locations tumbling out of the top 100, including major European cities such as The Hague, Lyon, Rome, Berlin and Munich. 

According to the report, the weakness of the euro combined with a slowdown in growth is the cause of the slide, leaving only eight locations in the top 100, compared to 22 in 2014.

Elsewhere, Brexit uncertainty has seen Central London fall 13 places to 140th, the capital’s lowest position on record and 130 places down on its highest recorded position of 10th in 2007.

ECA International’s Cost of Living Survey compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in more than 480 locations worldwide. The survey helps businesses to ensure that their employees’ spending power is maintained when they are sent on international assignments. ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years.

In contrast, some European locations outside of the eurozone saw significant rises in the relative cost of living, as Russian and Ukrainian locations registered big rises. Kiev (198th) witnessed the biggest increase in Europe, rising 38 places over the last 12 months, whilst Moscow (114th) and St Petersburg (168th) increased their ranking 29 and 24 places respectively.

Meanwhile Switzerland continues to have the highest cost of living in Europe with four locations in the top 10, making the country one of the most expensive locations in the world for businesses to send assignees.

Steven Kilfedder, Production Manager at ECA International said “Locations in Switzerland and the Nordic countries continue to dominate the European top 10 most expensive locations for expatriates. With Germany narrowly avoiding recession amid weak global demand, due to the effects of the US trade war with China and Brexit uncertainty, both Berlin and Munich have dropped out of the global top 100. With the Eurozone’s largest economy in the dumps, most Eurozone countries have seen a slight drop in the Cost of Living for expatriates due to the relative weakness of the euro.”

North America dominates top 100 most expensive locations in the world 

The continuing strength of the US dollar has seen all locations in the US increase by an average of 18 places, with New York (15th) and Honolulu (20th) in Hawaii both entering the global top 20. This continues a trend which has seen 28 US locations enter the top 100, compared to just five in 2014.

Canadian locations also saw big increases, rising 20 places on average with Vancouver (91st) and Ottawa (96th) returning to the top 100. Toronto (101st) and Montreal (124th) remain outside the top 100 but did increase 23 and 12 places respectively.

North America now accounts for almost a third of the top 100 most expensive locations in the world with 30 cities located in either the USA or Canada, overtaking Asia which has 28. The continent’s strong performance has also seen seven European locations drop out of the top 100 most expensive in ECA’s cost of living ranking.

Kilfedder said: “The strength of the US dollar has made the US more expensive for workers and businesses looking to move to the country with 28 cities in the top 100 – more than five times as many as five years ago. On the other hand, US companies are benefitting from the cheaper cost of sending staff abroad to locations in Europe and China.”

European top 20 most expensive locations for expatriates
Location
Country
2019 Ranking
Zurich
Switzerland
1
Geneva
Switzerland
2
Basel
Switzerland
3
Bern
Switzerland
4
Oslo
Norway
5
Stavanger
Norway
6
Copenhagen
Denmark
7
Helsinki
Finland
8
Stockholm
Sweden
9
Paris
France
10
Gothenburg
Sweden
11
Brussels
Belgium
12
Dublin
Irish Republic
13
Vienna
Austria
14
Amsterdam
Netherlands
15
Antwerp
Belgium
16
Strasbourg
France
17
The Hague
Netherlands
18
Lyon
France
19
Rotterdam
Netherlands
20

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

About ECA International

ECA International is the market-leading provider of knowledge, information and technology that enables businesses to manage their international reward programmes.

Partnering with thousands of clients on every continent, we provide a fully-integrated suite of quality data, specialist software, consultancy and training. Our unparalleled insights guide clients as they mobilise their most valuable resource: people.

We make the complex world of international mobility simple, providing clients with the expertise and support they need to make the right decisions - every time.

ECA International: Mobility solutions for a world that’s constantly moving.

About ECA's Cost of Living Survey

ECA International's cost of living surveys are carried out in March and September using a basket of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by assignees. The data used above refers to year-on-year movements between ECA's September 2018 and September 2019 surveys. ECA’s Cost of Living Survey rankings began in 2005.

Cost of living indices are used by ECA clients to calculate cost of living allowances for assignees. The survey covers:

  • Food: Groceries; dairy produce; meat and fish; fresh fruit and vegetables 
  • Basic: Household goods; recreational goods; general services; leisure services
  • General: Clothing; electrical goods; motoring; meals out; alcohol and tobacco

Certain living costs such as accommodation rental, utilities charges (electricity, gas, and water), car purchases and school fees are not included in the survey. Such items can make a significant difference to expenses but are usually compensated for separately in expatriate packages.

This comparison of cost of living was calculated on a base composed of various developed countries and is used to reflect an international lifestyle. Other indices available from ECA reflect specific city-to-city comparisons and different levels of shopping efficiency.

For further information, please contact:

Jack Firth 
Tel: +44 0 20 7351 5000
Email: Jack.Firth@eca-international.com

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